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It hasn’t been a good year for Adam Eaton, on or off the field. The Nationals are 37-40 and among baseball’s most disappointing teams, and Eaton’s pedestrian season (.274/.360/.388) is one of many contributing factors.
More than that, he’s spent the year making it more easily understood why he alienated a lot of people in and around the White Sox clubhouse during his time on the South Side.
I spent the weekend half-offline in San Francisco, and found out what Eaton said through indirect references by friends of the show.
When Eaton draws this kind of response, it’s usually because he either kept talking when he should’ve stopped, or what he said was a disaster from Word One.
Sure enough, Eaton was quoted in a Washington City Paper article that detailed the sacrifices minor-league players make in order to pursue their dream. It’s a story that’s getting increasing attention, but worth repeating for those who don’t know that players make $1,000 a month, sleep on inflatable mattresses in non-bedrooms, and get per diems that struggle to cover one proper meal.
But Eaton, who was the White Sox’ union representative during his time in Chicago, took the side of management by saying the underpayment builds character, that it made him the man he is today, and other sentiments associated with hazing.
While he believes things can be improved and players should make a little more money so they’re “literally not eating crumbs,” he doesn’t want MLB to make minor league conditions more hospitable.
“If you do, complacency sets in,” Eaton says. “I think it’s difficult, yes, and it’s easy for me to say that because of where I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am without that … If I financially am supported down there and financially can make a living and not have to get to the big leagues, I think I’m a little more comfortable. I think that I might not work as hard because I know I’m getting a decent paycheck every two weeks, and may not push myself nearly as hard.”
“I don’t disagree with [the notion] that they’re being exploited, but I think it’s for the betterment of everybody,” he adds. “I know it sounds crazy … I think there’s a middle ground … There’s ground to be made up, but I think it still should be rough.”
It’s a comment that doesn’t reflect well on him, even if you think it’s impossible or counterproductive for MLB to give its minor leaguers more than they do now. Eaton probably doesn’t want his down year explained by the security his $23.5 million contract provided. It also doesn’t pair well with his beef with Todd Frazier, in which Eaton lied about having a mortgage in an attempt to make himself relatable to the common fan.
It’s now a little unclear what Eaton actually believes since he walked it back, but he at least seems to recognize that when it comes to those in power leveraging it unfairly and potentially illegally, you do not, under any circumstances, “gotta hand it to them.”
The White Sox have improved their preseason course by a few wins, as ZiPS projects the White Sox to finish 74-88, good for third in the American League behind the 98-win Twins and 90-win Cleveland.
Is the 98-win projection might be a bit bullish if the Twins’ recent skid — 5-5, three games lost in the standings to the Indians — indicates the start of a lengthy regression period. They’re still on pace for a triple-digit win total with an eight-game lead and the league’s best run differential, but with three position players on the IL and two more banged-up, they’re having to battle for the first time all season.
Toward the bottom of a notebook largely dedicated to the deadline plans for the league’s surprising teams, Ken Rosenthal doesn’t have much to say about the White Sox:
Like many teams, the surprising White Sox would love to add a controllable starter. But they are not going to abandon their long-term plan for a chance at a wild card, and they might not be active at the deadline at all.
GM Rick Hahn has said it’s “very likely” potential free agent Jose Abreu will remain with the club. The team also might prefer to keep three players who are free agents after 2020 — catcher James McCann and relievers Alex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera — with the goal of taking another step forward next season.
Jose Quintana is 0-6 with a 5.40 ERA over his last nine starts, over which the Cubs have scored a total of 19 runs. It’s not like Quintana picked this particular point in his career to struggle, but it’s not great timing considering Eloy Jiménez is starting to show signs of settling in.
The Mets issued a quick apology for the conduct of Mickey Callaway and starter Jason Vargas after the former snapped at a Newsday reporter and the latter threatened him. The Mets aren’t even close to the worst team in baseball, but they’ve developed an uncanny ability to feel like they are.